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Toulouse gunman Mohamed Merah has been buried outside the south-western French city, hours after its mayor said it would be “inappropriate” for him to be buried there.
LONDON, UK – Islamist gunman Mohamed Merah has been buried outside the city of Toulouse in south-west France, hours after the city’s mayor said it would be “inappropriate” for him to be buried there and requested a 24-hour delay.
Socialist Mayor Pierre Cohen’s initial rejection came immediately after a last-minute refusal by officials in Algeria to accept Merah’s body for burial, citing security concerns, GlobalPost reports.
According to the BBC, Merah, born in France of Algerian descent, was buried at Toulouse’s Cornebarrieu cemetery on Thursday evening.
Abdallah Zekri of the Muslim Council of France, who had been assisting in the coordination of the burial, told the Agence France Presse that objections to Merah’s interment had been surmounted:
“There were negotiations, we reached an agreement,” Zekri said.
Merah’s family had originally hoped to accompany his body to Algeria and hold a funeral in his home village in Medea province, about 80 kilometers south of the capital city of Algiers.
But an Algerian government source confirmed to Reuters on Thursday that the North African government had refused to admit his body for burial in the village, saying:
“Algeria has nothing to do with this case, and we do not understand why some circles are trying to involve us in it. This is why we took the decision to not admit the body for now in Algeria.”
French president Nicolas Sarkozy weighed in later in the day to try to bring an end to the debate, The Daily Telegraph reports, telling France’s BFMTV news channel: “[Merah] was French. Let him be buried and let’s not have any arguments about it.”
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The 23-year-old killed seven people, including three children, in a series of execution-style gun attacks in France’s south-western cities of Toulouse and Montauban. He was shot dead during a 30-hour siege of his Toulouse apartment last week.
French police are investigating whether Merah, who described himself as an Al Qaeda member during negotiations with police before his death, carried out the killing spree alone.
Investigators have already charged his brother, Abdelkader, as an accomplice, and are on the hunt for a third man, according to the Parisien, after Abdelkader told police an accomplice had helped him and his brother steal the scooter Mohammed rode during the attacks.
Police have reportedly found an abandoned car containing parts of the scooter, and have traced the vehicle's owner to an address near Merah's home.
Merah's father has hired an Algerian lawyer to sue the French special forces squad that killed his son as he resisted arrest, prompting outrage from French politicians, including Foreign Minister Alain Juppé, who said:
“If I were the father of such a monster, I would shut my mouth in shame.”
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